The NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey tournament has a deep and glorious history. It was created, in part, by the vision of Spencer Penrose.
In 1938, a year before his death, Penrose and fellow philanthropist Charles Tutt developed plans to convert The Broadmoor’s unused equestrian center into an indoor ice arena, known as the Broadmoor Ice Palace.
Penrose, a native of Philadelphia, got the idea to build the Ice Palace after seeing figure skater Sonja Henie in Chicago. He saw the formation of the Broadmoor rink as a sports palace, and home to some of the world’s elite figure skaters.
After three weeks of renovations at a cost of $200,000, the Ice Palace opened and became the home of the Colorado College Tigers hockey program. The Broadmoor Skating Club also called the Ice Palace home.
The Ice Palace was located on the site of today’s West Tower at The Broadmoor, which overlooks Cheyenne Lake.
The Tigers opened play on Jan. 21, 1938, in an 8-1 loss to a team sponsored by Giddings Department Store.
A year later, Garrett Livingston took over as CC’s head coach and began recruiting players from Canada and the New England states. He also transitioned the program from the Pikes Peak Hockey League into an NCAA Division I independent. The new and improved Tigers swept Michigan in the program’s first-ever intercollegiate series early in the 1939-40 season and quickly gained national acclaim.
That same season, Colorado College also played games against Colorado School of Mines, Montana School of Mines and the University of Southern California.
Colorado College became a driving force in college hockey, and with the cooperation of The Broadmoor, sponsored the first NCAA Ice Hockey Championships to conclude the 1947-48 season. The tournament was held at the Ice Palace for the next 10 years, during which time CC participating seven times.
The Tigers won national championships in 1950 and 1957, and lost in 1952 and 1955.
Starting in 1958, the tournament was moved to different locations around the country. In 1961 the Ice Palace became known as the Broadmoor World Arena, and in 1969 was the host site again for the NCAA Finals for a still record 11th time. The World Arena closed in 1994.
Penrose, though he was not alive to witness the growth of the sport, was so highly regarded as a pioneer that an award was named in his honor 12 years after his death. Since 1951, the Spencer Penrose Award has been awarded yearly to the top coach in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey by the American Hockey Coaches Association.
Penrose was an avid sportsman. He founded the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 1916 as a way to promote his famous highway. He created the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo on the grounds of The Broadmoor hotel in 1937 in a stadium that Penrose named for humorist Will Rogers. It was originally known as the Will Rogers Rodeo, changing to the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo a year later.
Golf was also one of Penrose’s passions. The original Broadmoor Golf Club’s 18-hole course was designed by architect Donald Ross in 1916 at the behest of Penrose, who envisioned turning his mountain property into a world-class resort.
When the Broadmoor East course opened in 1918, it was the highest golf course in the United States at 6,400 feet in elevation.
By 1924, Penrose had organized the Broadmoor Polo Association. For years, it hosted some of the sport’s most famous national players.